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Posts Tagged ‘Papua New Guinea’

Peter O’Neill aiding and abetting the theft of valuable forest resources

May 2, 2014 Leave a comment

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In a criminal conspiracy of grand proportions the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, is aiding and abetting the theft of valuable forest resources from customary landowners by Malaysian logging companies.

The value of the logs being stolen every month is more than K14 million, but while common criminals and shoplifters are quickly arrested and beaten by the police, the Royal PNG Constabulary and the corruption watchdog Task Force Sweep are standing by and watching a far far more serious crime.

The SABL Commission of Inquiry found the leases given to logging companies are unlawful and therefore their logging operations are illegal. The Commissioners said of the logging companies:

“They mislead and deceive landowners with the assistance of corrupt government officials”

But Peter O’Neill has failed to take any action to stop the illegal logging or cancel the fraudulent leases. As a result logs worth millions of kina are being stolen and shipped overseas every month.

In the 12 months to October 2013 the value of the logs stolen from SABL areas and shipped overseas, according to SGS and the PNG Forest Authority, was over K170 million kina.

That is K170 million stolen in just one year – and it is still on-going!

That is just the value of the raw logs. It takes no account of the environmental destruction caused by the logging operation, the loss of gardens and wildlife or the eventual value of the timber once sawn.

The Prime Minister was given the Commission of Inquiry reports on 24 June last year (2013) but for 10 long months he has done nothing but offer empty promises.

In September the Prime Minister presented the reports in Parliament and said they revealed:

“a shocking trend of mismanagement and corruption”

He went on to say:

“Mr Speaker, this government is going to start protecting landowners and the environment. We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

This was 8 months ago, since then Peter O’Neill has done NOTHING!

On November 5 last year, Mr O’Neill went on radio and said he had appointed a Ministerial Committee to review the CoI recommendations and report back within 2 months.

But nothing has happened and the illegal logging is still continuing.

PNG’s Criminal Code makes very clear that it is an offence to aid the commission of any crime and that those who are accessories, who allow a crime to continue or assist in any way, are just as guilty as the primary offenders.

How much longer are we going to sit back and watch the Prime Minister and his political cronies stealing our valuable forest resources…?

Sarawak’s WTK Slammed For Land Grabs In Papua New Guinea

May 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Sarawak Report

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A new report by the global NGO OXFAM has identified the Sarawak crony logging company WTK as one of the main land-grabbing companies illegally destroying the rain forests of Papua New Guinea and stealing the lands and livelihoods of the native people.

New Oxfam report links Sarawak’s WTK to destruction in PNG.

New Oxfam report links Sarawak’s WTK to destruction in PNG.

The report specifically attacks Australian banks which have been willing to turn a blind eye to the law breaking and environmentally devastating activities of rogue companies such as WTK by lending them money.

This not only breaks the codes of conduct that such banks are always fond of boasting to their customers about, they break the law.

Banks are bound by duties of due diligence to make sure they are not funding or supporting unlawful or corrupt behaviour or the money laundering of illegal profits.

Yet time and again, the world over, global financial institutions are ignoring these duties and turning a blind eye to the exploitation of vulnerable people and world heritage environments like Papua New Guinea by crook companies such as WTK.

How Sarawak’s logging companies have become a world menace

WTK is just one of the Taib connected crony logging companies that made their money out of destroying Sarawak and are now expanding their operations throughout the remaining tropical timber areas of the world.

WTK has been slammed for causing detrimental impacts on the Turubu community in PNG’s East Sepik provence.

WTK has been slammed for causing detrimental impacts on the Turubu community in PNG’s East Sepik provence.

These highly vulnerable areas with largely defenceless populations are under assault from Malaysian logging and plantation concerns from Indonesia to the Congo and the Amazon.

Made rich from the rape of Sarawak they are taking their same corrupt business methods to these regions and using their huge funds to bribe and bully their way into concessions, most of which turn out to be bogus and illegal.

A company controlled by Taib’s cousin, Ta Ann boss Hamed Sepawi, grasped nearly a quarter of the largest remaining area of the Liberian rainforest before his activities were exposed and he was chucked out by Presidential decree. Sepawi has also been involved in some highly controversial dealings in Tasmania, which has made his company the single driving force behind the destruction of the island’s remaining wild forests.

Environmental activists have been protesting Ta Ann’s logging activities in Tasmania’s old growth forests.

Environmental activists have been protesting Ta Ann’s logging activities in Tasmania’s old growth forests.

Likewise, Samling have been operating illegally in Guyana and one of the Directors of Sarawak’s Asian Plantations, an American ex-driving instructor called Denis Melka, is currently pouring money into controversial and illegal deforestation in Peru.

Rimbunan Hijau is busy destroying Papua New Guinea as well and Malaysian companies are up to their neck in illegal deforestation and plantations in Kalimantan.

These are just a few examples and Sarawak Report plans to produce a global list of logging shame showing just how destructive the logging companies of Sarawak have become now that they have finished with destroying their home state and gone global.

Meanwhile, sitting like a spider at the centre of this web of global environmental devastation is the Godfather of Global Timber Corruption himself, Taib Mahmud.

Former Chief Minister Taib Mahmud made sure he and his family members got the lions share of land grabs in Sarawak.

Former Chief Minister Taib Mahmud made sure he and his family members got the lions share of land grabs in Sarawak.

This former Chief Minister was the man who made sure he got the lions share out of every destructive and greedy land grab that these companies enjoyed in their home state and he also made sure that he and his family members were granted shares in the companies concerned, so that as they go global he continues to reap the rewards.

Take a look at the shareholders of WTK for example and see how Taib’s two daughters Jamilah and Hanifah (through their company Majaharta) own a healthy chunk of WTK.

Do we think that Canadian national Jamilah, who claims that none of her money is made out of exploiting her own homeland, really negotiated this ‘passive investment’ or do we think it had something to do with the deals and kickbacks arranged by her Dad.

The Oxfam Report “Banking On Shaky Ground” can be read here.

Long time resident not happy with forced eviction by Rimbunan Hijau

April 26, 2014 1 comment

Lina Gawi, from Geborobi village in the East Sepik Province, settled in Bumbu when her daughter was seven years of age. Now she is a mother of 5 adult children, She was not very happy when the bulldozer belonging to RH bulldozed the area which they called home for the past 40 years,

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Lina said we have no where to go as this was our home.  We left our original village at a very young age and now we cant go back. Our home is here. We planted coconut trees and bettlenut trees and mango tree’s etc.

Lina cried as she spoke and she is still mourning at the unfair treatment done to her home.

Lina and the other families like hers, have nowhere to go so they are living in makeshift houses waiting the outcome of a court case.

Lina said they treated us like animals and we know our human rights have been violated to a great extent.

In the photos of Lina she is now washing clothes and drying them at the place where her house used to be.

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PNG police wont investigate Australian ‘speculator’ but will take his money

April 25, 2014 2 comments

The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary has just announced a ‘generous’ donation of K20,000 from the Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC), a concern run by Australian businessman Gudmundur Fridriksson.

Gummi FridrikssonAccording to the Public Accounts Committee, PHDC – labelled a ‘foreign speculator’ by the committee – acquired the contested land at Paga Hill through ‘corrupt dealings’. The Lands Department Secretary informed the Committee he could not forfeit the company’s illegally acquired state lease because it would place, ‘the security of my officers in jeopardy’.

Despite PHDC’s chequered history the RPNGC’s media unit proudly proclaims:

‘Acting Assistant Commissioner Reforms Joanne Clarkson today thanked the Paga Hill Development Company for its timely donation of K20,000 which enable the Constabulary to send policewomen to participate in the Australasian Police & Emergency Services Games in Melbourne, Australia’.

It seems pertinent to ask where this K20,000 came from. Was it from the:

  • K2.5 million the national government paid Fridriksson for Destination Papua New Guinea, a book (yes K2.5 million for a book!) riddled with what Sean Dorney calls ‘appalling mistakes’
  • K1,966,677 which the Auditor General alleges CCS Anvil – a company owned by Fridriksson and PHDC shareholder George Hallitt – wrongfully seized from the sale of deceased PNG estates, when advising the Public Curators Office (CCS Anvil has acted as PHDC’s ‘project director’).
  • K4,872,375 in ‘unlawful’ payments made to CCS Anvil by the Public Curators Office.
  • K79,500 in unlawful payments  – according to the Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee – made by the East Sepik Provincial government made to CCS Anvil
  • K375,799 in unlawful payments made by the Parliamentary Service to CCS Anvil (documented by the Public Accounts Committee)

Perhaps if the police did their job and followed up more often on Auditor General/Public Accounts Committee findings they would not have to rely on ‘donations’ from those named and shamed in public accounting reports.

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Rimbunan Hijau evicts Bumbu residents in Lae

April 24, 2014 1 comment
Bumbu eviction site

Bumbu eviction site

Thirty houses in the Bumbu settlement in Lae were forcibly removed and the families evicted 2 months ago with all the trees bulldozed. The residents are now living in tents, waiting for a better response from the company involved and the government.

The residents have found out that Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau has bought off the piece of land that they have been living on for the last 40- 50 years. Now these long-term residents have nowhere to go.

They say their human rights have been violated and the government seriousely needs to pay attention to how they have been treated by Rimbunan Hijau who has been using PNG Forest Product’s name to evict them.

The families were originally compensated with K1000 to each household and 12 plywood sheets each to rebuld their homes on a new site. But their question is where will they build their new houses when they have been living in Bumbu for the last 50 years and they have no where else to go.

A court case is underway against PNG Forest Products and Rimbunan Hijau to try and stop what ever they are trying to do and to force them to give a good response to the people who they have over looked to satisfy their own self interest and who  find themselves living in tents for almost 2 months now.

Rumours have it that the logging giant Rimbunan Hijau is planning to build a wharf on the site.

Rimbuan Hijau has already been found guilty in the SABL Commission of Inquiry of conspiring with the Department of Lands Acting Secretary, Romily Kila Pat, to illegally obtain land for a wharf in Port Moresby:

Rimbunan Hijau, Kila Pat and the unlawful Port Moresby wharf 

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Australian government rejects advisers warning on Bougainville mine

April 23, 2014 1 comment

The Australian government’s subservient relationship with giant mining companies mean it has rejected AusAID’s advice that re-opening the Panguna mine will destabilize the island and it should instead focus on supporting the agriculture sector…

In a 2008 evaluation of AusAID’s development aid programme on Bougainville, experts employed by Australia’s aid agency offered sobering advice that is proving prescient.

The currently closed Panguna copper mine forms a backdrop to all discussion of economic recovery … It should be remembered that the mine was the original flashpoint of armed conflict in Bougainville … [The mine community’s] attitude to profit-seeking foreigners is dour. While some think that reopening the mine is possible, it is just as likely that any agreement would again collapse. In the interim, a strategy for economic recovery through agricultural production appears the most viable among the possibilities.

AusAID’s experts justify their emphasis on agriculture, noting:

Resumption of mining must also be weighed against the stress this would place upon Bougainville, which at this stage has all the characteristics of a fragile state. Influx of workers from elsewhere in PNG, the politics of royalty distribution and the political imperatives of a new and powerful stakeholder, the company, may create political shocks in Bougainville to destabilise the island in the run up to the autonomy referendum due between 2015 and 2020.

So, given the Australian government’s so called commitment to stability on Bougainville, why would it now pump millions into an unwanted project, administered by ‘profit-seeking foreigners’ that could potentially destabilise a fragile peace?

The Australian Green Party has obtained part of the answer from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. DFAT has revealed the Australian government is now being advised BY the same ‘profit-seeking foreigner’ – Rio Tinto – who to this day dodges war crime allegations over its former role on Bougainville.

And remember, according to Australia’s former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, it is this profit-seeking foreigner, who, along with BHP ‘run[s] the country’ i.e. Australia.

Below is a catalogue of all the TWENTY ONE 2013 meetings between Rio Tinto and the Australian government (Peter Taylor = BCL Chairman, Paul Coleman = BCL Secretary).

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Oro government leads in the fight against illegal land grabbing

April 16, 2014 2 comments

From ACT NOW!

Gary Juffa opposition to SABL land grab exposes Peter O'Neill's inaction

Gary Juffa opposition to SABL land grab exposes Peter O’Neill’s inaction

While PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill sits on his hands refusing to cancel unlawful SABL leases and stop illegal logging, the Oro Provincial government is standing with its people against the Malaysian led land grab.

In a statement issued overnight, Oro Governor Gary Juffa has again committed his government to assist landowners:

“That the Oro Government stands by its people in fighting against land grabbing, illegal logging and is willing to support their court cases with its own legal team and attending as a party to all cases of such.

“We are also taking to task several companies who have obtained land illegally and will fight all this through the courts of PNG.

“My Government has placed a moratorium on all land dealings in Oro and it is still very much in force and will be with all dealings to be reviewed by a committee established at some time in the future.

“As for landgrabbers and their pokies playing, beer swilling, corridor walking scamming and scheming – Oro is closed for illegal business…we welcome genuine investors only…”

The position of the Oro Provincial government stands in stark contrast to the position of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who continues to protect the Malaysian logging companies who are making huge profits from their stolen timber.

Peter O’Neill has failed to implement the recommendations of the recent SABL land grab Commission of Inquiry which found the SABL leases had been unlawfully and fraudulently issued. The Commission recommended the unlawful leases be immediately revoked, but the Peter O’Neill led government has done nothing with those findings.

 

Made in China: Momis failing the people of Bougainville

April 15, 2014 3 comments

Via PNG Mine Watch

Made In China

 

 

 

 

Australian ‘aid’ aims to ensure Bougainville subservience

April 9, 2014 7 comments

The Australian government has already assumed the role of regional sheriff and wants to sit astride a region of compliant states and micro-states. This means other countries markets and resources should be open to foreign capital without barriers such as the muscular protection of landowner rights, or strong environmental laws. Australia is targeting its aid spending to ensure Bougainville fits this model.

Whatever the future for Bougainville, Australia wants to ensure the island is a subservient neighbor providing a supporting role to Australia’s own economic and political interests. Australia is therefore targeting its aid spending to ensure that outcome, placing consultants in key political and financial roles and neglecting health and other people-centered sectors.

Australia’s emphasis is clearly demonstrated in new figures that show the breakdown of aid spending by Australia on consultants for the resource-rich island of Bougianville.

Figures released by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (see below) show that over 90% of $2.9 million per annum spent on the wages of consultant working for Australia on Bougainville is directed at ensuring Australian political structures, policy priorities, economic models, and security interests dominate in the new Bougainville government and bureaucracy.

In contrast, less than 9% of spending is targeted at health and HIV prevention and Australia is spending NOTHING on consultants for agriculture development, extension services to support self-sufficiency or women’s and youth programs.

In all, Australia is funding 22 consultant positions on Bougainville. Twenty-one of those consultants are working on governance, law and justice and mining programs.

Over half the consultants are working directly with government departments, writing legislation and advising on the drafting of policy, financial management and  procurement.

This all means Australia in a powerful position to ensure its interests and those of its largest corporations are well taken care of in Bougainville’s future.

As a state-builder, Australia builds in its own image, and wants to ensure Melanesian countries act as stewards for foreign companies rather than as the protectors of their own citizens. As a result the people have already had to suffer at the hands of transnational corporations like Rio Tinto, BHP, Rimbunan Hijau and Exxon-Mobil – and it looks as if Bougainville will continue the trend…

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When will Rio Tinto Face Justice for its Crimes on Bougainville?

April 7, 2014 5 comments

The Bougainville Truth Initiative

Its that time of year again, where Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) celebrates its impunity from prosecution by declaring its resolve to re-enter Bougainville and scoop up what’s left of the mineral deposit they were forced to leave, when landowners closed their environmentally catastrophic operation.

In BCL’s 2013 annual report, published last week, the company’s Chairman gloats about escaping civil liability in the US courts on jurisdictional grounds.

“The action”, the Chairman argues, “which sought to invite a foreign court to decide on local PNG matters, in the company’s view sent a negative message about PNG and Bougainville and has not been helpful in attracting investors”.

If investors are deterred by the prospect of being found liable for gross human rights abuses they have helped author, perhaps these are not the type of investors PNG should be courting!

BCL has also been given moral support from the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Australian legal advisor – recently revealed to have been paid $270,000 – K680,000 in Bougainville aid money – who went on the record to claim “credible evidence is yet to emerge” proving the allegations against Rio Tinto made in the United States.

Despite sophisticated efforts to deny and deceive landowning communities for a second time, the gravity of BCL’s actions are well known on the ground.

Below are some examples of why communities are fighting BCL’s return.

Anyone as disgusted as we are by this evidence can join the international campaign to bring Rio Tinto to justice for its deplorable actions on Bougainville: http://www.jubileeaustralia.org/2013/campaigns/notonmywatch/bougainville

BCL’s Managing Director Declares Support for PNGDF Offensives 

In this meeting with PNG Prime Minister, RJC – Robert Cornelius, BCL’s Managing Director – applauds security force offensive operations, and even identifies civilian targets to ‘apprehend’. Not involved in military operations?

BCL Supports Military Operations image

 BCL Provides Logistic Support for Military Operations

PNGDF officer, and acclaimed author, Yauka Liria, recounts the wide-ranging support BCL lent the security forces.

Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p3Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p4Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p5Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p6Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p7Source: ‘Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria’, Alexis Holyweek Sarei, et el.,v Rio Tinto, plc. et al., Case No. 00-11695 MMM AIJx, United States District Court – Central District of California, Western Division, 2001.

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